U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross plans to make an announcement on Thursday regarding the signing of a 25-year contract for a public-private partnership to create the first nationwide public safety broadband network.
AT&T is the only publicly known entity that is being considered for the award of the contract, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings and court documents.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce, will sign the contract with a network provider to equip first responders with the latest technology to allow them to communicate with other public safety personnel on a dedicated network.
The innovative new network will provide firefighters, police officers and paramedics with a reliable and secure way to quickly communicate with each other during emergencies and disasters to improve public safety. The broadband network will allow the transmission of high-speed data, location information, images, and video.
The FirstNet Board of Directors on Tuesday voted unanimously to authorize its CEO to take all actions necessary to ensure an expedient award of a contract for the procurement for completion of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.
“This is a significant milestone for FirstNet and for the public safety community,” said Sue Swenson, chair of FirstNet. “We are bringing the procurement to the finish line and soon will be forming an innovative public-private partnership to deploy the network.”
FirstNet originally issued request for proposals in January 2016 for the deployment of the network, which is part of the organization’s efforts to modernize communications for first responders and other public safety personnel across the United States.
Tuesday’s vote was part of a number of steps the organization has taken in recent months to ready a public-private partnership for the deployment of the network including creating a chief customer office and network program office in June, obligating $6.5 billion to support the award of the contract, and unveiling a three-month post-award guide progress with the network’s future private partner.
In addition, FirstNet recently worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a protest action by Rivada Mercury regarding the acquisition process for the network.
FirstNet CEO Mike Poth said the board’s decision was a critical step in finalizing the network procurement. “Upon award, FirstNet will immediately start work on delivering this network to public safety and fulfilling our promise to them,” he said.